Ovation Faces Challenge As Independent

It’s not just the country, but the Ovation network might suffer its own version of a fiscal cliff come Dec. 31. The arts-oriented network said Tuesday that Time Warner Cable (TWC) may drop it if a new carriage deal isn’t reached by then.

Fans can send a missive to TWC via Ovation’s Web site lamenting that the cable operator offers plenty of sports and reality TV, but only has one channel “dedicated exclusively to the arts.”

“Don't deprive your viewers of the arts,” the note reads. “Don't undermine a network that is supporting artists and art communities nationwide.” 

Will the guilt trip work? Ovation could have a tough road ahead. It’s an independent network and can’t negotiate with a cable operator using a slew of other networks – some more popular than others -- as leverage to say: take all or none. A sort of no TNT, unless you offer HLN thing.

Independent networks are at a crossroads now more than ever because operators are looking for ways to reduce content costs. Or, ways to free up money to pay those increasing fees to offer sports. How much? Ovation says it only is looking to charge TWC “pennies a month.”

Ovation has proven it can persuade operators of its value as it’s now in 51 million homes.

The future of independent networks gaining carriage was highlighted as the government scrutinized the Comcast/NBCUniversal combination. Comcast made several commitments to offer indies.

So, one thing seems pretty clear: Comcast won’t look to silence Ovation anytime soon. It’s not that easy with other carriers who feel emboldened to deal with headlines about their lack of support for the arts.

Tags: television
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